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1902 Underwood 4 Serial # 15991 1902 Underwood 4 typewriter, Serial # 15991 Mark Schrad's 1902 Underwood 4 typewriter. 2023-10-20 From the Virtual Typewriter Collection of Mark Schrad: 1902 Underwood 4 Serial # 15991 This is one of those very early “Wagner” Underwoods… but even then, a very unusual one. Follow me on this historical investigation, if you’re interested….

The rear of the machine quite clearly states “Manufactured by the Wagner [not Underwood] Typewriter Co., New York, USA,” so it is definitely an original Wagner machine.

Curiously, though, it does not have other telltale signs of a Wagner machine: the paper fingers, the “UT” logo on the paper table, and even the topside serial number are more consistent with later (I.e. post 1905) Underwood models. So WTF?!?

So, here’s my best guess as to the history of this machine, if you care to follow along:

There are TWO serial numbers on the frame of this machine. Under the foot, the serial number 15991 dates to 1902, which is completely in line with being one of Franz Wagner’s machines.

However, there is a second serial number on the top of the frame—114676–which dates from 1906. It appears that this serial number was overlaid over the original on the top of the machine, suggesting that the machine was re-built by Underwood around 1906, which would explain why the decals, paper table, paper fingers, and other elements are more consistent with later generations of Underwoods.

Plus the keyboard layout seems to have been redone around 1906, with a mathematical keyboard, including +, =, and lambda λ keys. (Seriously… who needed a dedicated lambda key in 1906?! Fascinating to think about.)

Anyway, provenance aside, this is a spectacular example of an early Wagner Underwood 4.

Formerly of the Bob Aubert collection of Delran, NJ (August, 2023).

1902 Underwood 4 #15991

Status: My Collection
Hunter: Mark Schrad (MLSchrad)
Created: 10-20-2023 at 08:35PM
Last Edit: 10-20-2023 at 08:36PM


Description:

This is one of those very early “Wagner” Underwoods… but even then, a very unusual one. Follow me on this historical investigation, if you’re interested….

The rear of the machine quite clearly states “Manufactured by the Wagner [not Underwood] Typewriter Co., New York, USA,” so it is definitely an original Wagner machine.

Curiously, though, it does not have other telltale signs of a Wagner machine: the paper fingers, the “UT” logo on the paper table, and even the topside serial number are more consistent with later (I.e. post 1905) Underwood models. So WTF?!?

So, here’s my best guess as to the history of this machine, if you care to follow along:

There are TWO serial numbers on the frame of this machine. Under the foot, the serial number 15991 dates to 1902, which is completely in line with being one of Franz Wagner’s machines.

However, there is a second serial number on the top of the frame—114676–which dates from 1906. It appears that this serial number was overlaid over the original on the top of the machine, suggesting that the machine was re-built by Underwood around 1906, which would explain why the decals, paper table, paper fingers, and other elements are more consistent with later generations of Underwoods.

Plus the keyboard layout seems to have been redone around 1906, with a mathematical keyboard, including +, =, and lambda λ keys. (Seriously… who needed a dedicated lambda key in 1906?! Fascinating to think about.)

Anyway, provenance aside, this is a spectacular example of an early Wagner Underwood 4.

Formerly of the Bob Aubert collection of Delran, NJ (August, 2023).

Typeface Specimen:

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Hunter: Mark Schrad (MLSchrad)

Mark Schrad's Typewriter Galleries [ My Collection ] [ My Sightings ]

Status: Typewriter Hunter
Points: 25335

Professor of Political Science and Director of Russian Area Studies at Villanova University. Writes about alcohol politics, Russia, and international law when not refurbishing old typewriters.



RESEARCH NOTE: When researching the Underwood 4 on a computer with lots of screen real estate, you may find that launching the Underwood Serial Number page and the Underwood 4 By Model/Year/Serial page in new browser windows can give you interesting perspectives on changes throughout the model series.